Dr. Gavin Hanke
Dr. Gavin Hanke

Dr. Gavin HankeCurator of Vertebrate Zoology

Why did you want to become a curator? 
I am a collector and I have always been interested in nature. As a student, I spent many hours collecting fishes, amphibians and reptiles and helped build a research collection at the University of Manitoba. I prepared skeletal material and reconstructed reptile skulls starting in high school and I have hands-on experience building models and dioramas. Museum work is a perfect fit for me. 

How did you become a zoology curator?
My education? At the University of Manitoba I did a bachelor of science in general zoology and master of science on exotic fish introductions. As a hobby, during my master’s degree, I published research on placoderm fossils from the Interlake region of Manitoba. My doctorate degree (PhD) at the University of Alberta focused on fossil fishes but, instead of placoderms, I looked at acanthodians and an odd group of fishes thought to be related to the cartilaginous fishes (sharks, rays and ratfishes). Shortly after my PhD in 2001, I was hired back in Winnipeg as the zoology curator at the Manitoba Museum. In early 2004, I headed west.

What do you do as curator of vertebrate zoology?
I collect specimens for the museum (particularly fish, amphibian and reptile) and write research papers which are published and available internationally. I help other researchers with their work and maintain contacts with other agencies in British Columbia to obtain as many specimens as possible—from areas where we rarely visit (like northern BC). I have particular interest in exotic species introductions in Canada and the role of the pet trade and food industry in exotic species dispersal. Curators also help develop exhibits—both travelling exhibits and permanent displays here at the Royal BC Museum—and act as a filter to make scientific literature accessible to a general audience.

Stories by or about this person

Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Dr. Gavin Hanke writes about this European lizard that is now at home in BC. It was released to southern Vancouver Island around 1970 and has since expanded its range, with potential impacts on native species.

Royal BC Museum Curator, Dr Gavin Hanke writes about removing and preserving baleen from a Grey Whale that washed up on Long Beach, Vancouver Island on April 20th, 2015.

A short article about the art of illustrating fish for scientific work.

Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Dr Gavin Hanke writes about fishy research trips and discovering fish species new to British Columbia on page 16 of this electronic copy of What’s inSight.

Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Dr Gavin Hanke writes about Assfish, Brotulas and Cusk-eels in The ABCs of the Royal BC Museum on page 24 of this electronic copy of What’s inSight.

Royal BC Museum Curator, Dr Gavin Hanke, describes the sometimes smelly, but always interesting, work of preparing the museum’s first humpback whale skeleton.

Royal BC Museum’s Curator of Vertebrates, Dr Gavin Hanke, writes about the work of museum illustrator, Frank Beebe.